Early in the mornings when the sun starts on its western journey, there's no sign of life in my neighbour's yard. Even the dahlias look drowsy at this time of the day... But as it gets brighter and warmer the first visitors drop by. The sparrows, the mynahs, magpies and the common tailor birds. The Asian pied starling is another visitor. It usually does not come alone. There's always a companion in tow and they're very noisy when they land.
I'm so glad that my neighbour is passionate about gardening and has a vast variety of plants. Her best blooms are out in the front of her house but I'm happy with what I get to see from my kitchen window. This patch is her southern area. And the best part is that I can take photographs of her yard when- ever I want! Of late I've noticed a white-breasted water hen foraging in this patch at different hours of the day. With the low-lying areas nearby, this is the most prominent aquatic bird seen in the neighbourhood. Oh yes, the egrets still come to feed on the marsh but that's only in the mornings. I never see them at other times of the day.
Water hens belong to the rail family and live near marshes and rice fields in both dry and wet habitats. They have a white face and the colour runs through the entire length of the body on the underside. The upper part is dark grey and the rump is a rusty red. The bill is greenish yellow with a red frontal shield. She runs as soon as she sees me! It really is difficult to take good pictures of this shy bird. She flies off to the wall, and then beyond it. For a bird that looks the way it does, the cries are raucous. Especially in the mornings. That's when they keep calling out loudly. I catch her on a quiet afternoon when she's busy pecking about the yard. The water hen's diet consists of worms, insects, small fish, snails, grain, tender shoots and roots. For the snails and small fish, she'll have to wait a little longer. The rains aren't here yet! It was heartening to find out ( on the Net) that the white- breasted water hen is not an endangered species. There are 142 different types of water hens in the world.
Initially I was happy to have a view of a garden. But to see wildlife from such close quarters, and in the midst of such surroundings, is a blessing indeed!
Glory be to God for dappled things- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him. Gerard Manley Hopkins
The first flowering shrub I planted on our land
Every flower is a soul blooming in Nature.-Gerard De Nerval
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself? -Henry David Thoreau